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The economics of Christmas lights

Economics is not the study of money but of human behavior. Specifically, it is about how people increase a sort of mental sense of well-being which economists call 'utility'. Money is a large part of that process, but only as a means, not an end. The private sector provided lighthouses because of the monetary incentive to do so. The folks who decorate their houses for Christmas do so because our happiness is their happiness. ...

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How does Deed Determine Effectiveness of Workforce Training Programs?

If Minnesota is to solve its looming workforce talent shortfall, the state’s employers will have to explore new talent pools and push for a higher workforce participation rate. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) runs or provides funding for more than 70 employment training and placement programs that assist in these efforts. For the 2018 fiscal year, DEED has allocated more than $169 million for these programs, according to a recent MinnPost article. But, as the article notes, “not all these programs, or their outcomes, are equal, which brings up an obvious question: How does DEED measure the programs’...

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Minnesota High Schools are tackling our state’s “skills gap” crisis head-on

Good news on Minnesota’s workforce development crisis: Innovative high schools are setting the stage for a revolution in career education. A recent Star Tribune article surveyed this burgeoning movement. “The race is on to help students more quickly figure out their interests and aptitudes and then get them trained,” according to the article. The Star Tribune highlighted Burnsville High School’s remarkable Pathways program, which it described as one of Minnesota’s most “comprehensive efforts to prepare students for the work world.” The program is funded by a $65 million voter-approved referendum, passed in 2015, and an annual technology levy of $2.5 million. According...

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